RIO DE JANEIRO, Aug 15 — Melbourne-based Fatehah Mustapa has some serious soul-searching to do after failing to progress in the women’s sprint cycling event at the Rio Olympic Games here yesterday.
Coming fresh to Rio from a five-week pre-camp training in Agueda, Portugal, she clocked 11.207 seconds in the preliminary qualifying round to finish 21st among 27 riders.
British Rebecca James set a new Olympic record with 10.1721s in the preliminary round, erasing her compatriot Victoria Pendleton’s time of 10.724s in the 2012 London Olympics.
It is the second in the year that Fatehah failed to progress beyond the preliminary rounds after a disappointing 25th position with 11.334s clocked at the Track Cycling World Championships in London in March.
“I did my best and coach John Beasley was statisfied with me,” said the Terengganu-born rider who specialises in the kierin race.
However, prior to the race, Beasley in the one and only press conference upon coming to Rio last Saturday, had said that Fatehah should be able to do around 11 seconds to rewrite her personal best.
Her personal best of 11.108s is also the national record set by the rider at the world championships in Paris last year.
She finished the 200m race as the third Asian rider with two Chinese — Zhong Tianshi (10.820s) and Gong Jinjie (11.068s) — making the cut among 18 riders for the next stage in fifth and 15th spots respectively.
She, however, remains assured she will do better in both sprint and kierin events at the Asian championship in Tokyo in November.
Asked about her next move, Fatehah said she will take a two-week break to visit her father, Mustapa Kassim, who was warded at the hospital for kidney complication and a stroke.
“It’s not an excuse for my performance here,” she said.
Meanwhile, team manager, Datuk Amarjit Singh defended the rider by saying that she had shown improvement from the world championships in March.
“Of course we would have liked to see her qualify for the 1/16 stage but still her efforts were commendable. Her timing here is the second best she has.
“I don’t think anything has gone wrong with her race,” he said.
Malaysia has pinned high hopes on Azizulhasni Awang to deliver the gold medal, the first for the country in Olympics, when he goes on the track for the kierin event tomorrow. — Bernama